A hot meal in cold weather

When MK Colette Avital took up the cause of Holocaust survivors the public started paying a little more attention to senior citizens.

WHEN THEIR pensions wouldn't stretch to cover heating, food and medicine, not many people took note of the plight of Israel's senior citizens. Then when MK Colette Avital took up the cause of Holocaust survivors and demanded that banks and other institutions relinquish funds deposited before the war and never claimed or hand over compensation that was paid out by Germany but never passed on to Holocaust survivors, the public started paying a little more attention to senior citizens. The media took further notice when felons began attacking elderly people in stairwells or in their homes and stealing what little they had. One recent champion of senior citizens' rights is television and radio host Meni Pe'er, who is now broadcasting regular messages about the aged. But long before he got on the bandwagon, fellow broadcaster Natan Zahavi, who despite his aggressive and sometimes abrasive style has always had a soft spot for senior citizens, began campaigning on their behalf, both on his own radio show and on radio commercials. He was doing it again last week during the extremely cold period that hit most of Israel, and one of his listeners happened to be celebrity chef Yonatan Roshfeld, who has been described by food reviewers as the prince of Israeli haute-cuisine. We all do what we can and in our own way to help others, and what Roshfeld does best is cook. So he invited some 70 senior citizens to come to his swanky Herbert Samuel Restaurant overlooking the Tel Aviv beachfront and presented them with a four-course meal that none of them could afford. Some of them are so poor that they had never been inside a restaurant before, let alone a high-class restaurant such as Herbert Samuel. Guests were served by the chef himself as well as by uniformed waiters and waitresses, who treated the senior citizens as if they were regular patrons, with one minor exception. Aware that many might have digestive problems, or perhaps might not have teeth with which to chew, Roshfeld created a menu that made eating easy for all of them. The occasion was a wonderful outing for the recipients of Roshfeld's benevolence; an example for his fellow restaurateurs to follow; a lesson in good citizenship and tolerance for his staff; and a sense of well-being for Roshfeld himself. YOUNGSTERS FROM Beduin villages in the Negev, Muslim and Christian groups from the Galilee and Jewish groups from Jerusalem, Jaffa, Ra'anana and Kiryat Gat, converged on Michmoret Beach last Friday. What they had in common was that they were all ninja turtles from the Budo for Peace Association, which teaches the values of traditional martial arts such as karate and aikido, to bring together Jewish and Arab children from all over Israel. The founder of the association is Australian-born black-belt karate champion Danny Hakim, who represented Australia in five Maccabiah Games. Soon after making aliya seven years ago, Hakim, who was a regular at the Wingate Institute for Physical Culture and Sport, noticed that there were a lot of Israeli Arab women studying martial arts. This inspired him to found Budo for Peace. Although "budo" is usually translated as "martial arts" or "the way of fighting," Hakim says that as a strictly Japanese concept, it means "the way of stopping conflict." It encourages values of respect, self-control and harmony through which he has taught Israeli and Palestinian youngsters to cooperate and become friends. Hakim, who is also associated with Clean-Up Israel, founded by fellow Australian Phillip Foxman, also teaches his Budo kids to respect the environment. And that's what some 150 of them were doing at Michmoret Beach on Friday. Also present was David Franklin, the CEO of Sugat, which is the corporate sponsor of Budo for Peace as well as the sponsor of the Kiryat Gat group, Australian Ambassador James Larsen and Japanese cultural attaché Ryuji Iwasaki. Franklin was so impressed that he said his company would support additional groups. The Budo youngsters, in addition to cleaning up the beach, also learned about harmony of the ecology at the Israel Sea Turtle Rescue Center. IF YOU'RE interested in mathematics and physics and in learning about Newton's theories and their progression to the present day, you might care to visit Mishkenot Sha'ananim in Jerusalem, this Friday, February 8, at 11 a.m. for the first in a series of monthly lectures by Prof. Eilam Gross of the Weizmann Institute. MOST OF the radio broadcasters from the northern region paid a solidarity visit to Sderot recently and were accompanied by Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, who got a thorough briefing from his southern counterpart, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal.